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Missing soldier, wife of ND grad found

Joe Piarulli | Wednesday, September 13, 2006

U.S. Air Force Captain Joshua Mayo, Notre Dame Class of 2002, was looking forward to his honeymoon in Jamaica when he heard the dismaying news.

Married on April 8 of this year, Mayo was expecting his new wife, U.S. Air Force Major Jill Metzger, to return home this September.

Instead, on Sept. 5, Metzger was reported missing in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

Mayo’s close friend and Class of 2002 graduate Maren Diamante said she got a call from Mayo that day. The news came as a complete shock.

“I had no words, I couldn’t even think,” she said. “[Mayo] was obviously very upset.”

Diamante had only met Metzger recently, but was left with a strong impression.

“I actually only met Jill when I went to their wedding in April, and she’s a fabulous girl,” she said. “She’s beautiful and incredibly nice.”

Diamante found the details of the story confusing and difficult to follow during the days Metzger was missing – a situation partially due to problems with translation and communication between Kyrgyz officials and U.S. officials and media outlets.

“I tried following it through the media and through the papers, but nobody could seem to get any sort of story straight,” she said. “There was no clear idea of what was happening.”

Metzger’s father, John Metzger, told the Associated Press he was hoping and praying for her return.

“We’ve got a prayer chain all the way across the nation, and it’s our hope that God will return her safely,” he said.

Those prayers were soon answered.

On Sept. 8, Kyrgyz law enforcement officials found Metzger.

Initial investigations indicate that Metzger may have been abducted after a shopping trip, according to a statement by U.S. Embassy officials as reported by the Air Force Print News. Further details are not being released without confirmation.

Mayo called Diamante to tell her the good news, which came as a happy shock.

“I nearly dropped the phone,” she said. “I was laughing and felt sick at the same time because I was so relieved.”

Diamante said Mayo and Metzger are currently in a hospital in Germany and cannot yet be reached for comment. The two met several years ago when they were both stationed at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

Metzger, chief of personnel for the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing, is said to be one of the best runners in the Air Force, having won the 2003 and 2004 women’s division of the Air Force Marathon, held in Ohio.

Metzger’s parents told the Air Force Print News that Metzger still wants to run in the Air Force marathon.

Thanks to Metzger’s return, her friends and family will be able to breathe easier – but that does not mean the tale should be forgotten, Diamante said.

“I think it’s an important story for people to hear, if only so that for a second they may appreciate the people in their lives a little more.”